The prominent temples in South India have become a shining symbol of India’s rich cultural history and diversity.
This is due to their exceptional fusion of religion and art.
Let us take a look at some of the best architectural wonders produced over thousands of years by ancient dynasties.
These are known to be the holy abodes of supreme lords of the trinity drawing millions of visitors annually.
In this article, you will get to know about the following popular temples in South India,
- Meenakshi Temple
- Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple
- Tirupati Balaji Temple
- Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple
- Kotilingeshwara Temple
- Sabarimala Sastha Temple
- Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple
- Shirdi Saibaba Temple
Let’s see each of these temples in detail…
1. Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu
The Meenakshi Amman Temple, also known as the Meenakshi-Sundareshwara Temple, is one of India’s oldest and most popular temples.
This famous South Indian temple, which is located in Madurai, has significant mythical and historical significance.
Lord Shiva is said to have taken the form of Sundareswarar (the handsome) and wedded Parvati (Meenakshi) at the location of the temple.
Meenakshi Temple, also known for its stunning design, is undeniably one of the ‘Wonders of India’.
It is also one of South India’s most popular tourist destinations, with hundreds of devotees flocking here every day.
Nearly a million worshippers gather in the temple during the ‘Thirukalyanam Festival,’ which lasts 10 days.
Despite the crowds, the temple is one of the cleanest places in India.
2. Sri RanganathaSwamy Temple, Tamil Nadu
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is a magnificently sculpted temple complex in Tamil Nadu.
It is also regarded as the first, principal, and most significant of the 108 major Vishnu temples (Divyadesams).
The temple is a gem of Dravidian architecture seen on Srirangam Island in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu.
The temple includes 49 sub-shrines and is endowed with 21 magnificently carved Gopurams (tower entrances).
The main entrance or the ‘RajaGopuram’ stands tall at 236 feet, making it the highest Gopuram in Asia.
The temple also features 7 Prakaras or enclosures.
Lord Vishnu, as Lord Ranganathaswamy, rests on a five-headed snake housed in the innermost Prakara.
The tower above the innermost Prakara is shaped like the letter ‘Om,’ and plated in gold.
Many people come here to see the architecture and the graceful deity of Lord Vishnu.
3. Tirupati Balaji Temple, Andhra Pradesh
Tirupati Venkateswara Temple is one of India’s most renowned and affluent shrines of Lord Vishnu.
Nestled in the tranquil Tirumala Hills (Andhra Pradesh), the spiritual ambiance of this fascinating temple cannot be described in words.
Every day, more than 50,000 pilgrims flock to this temple to worship the supreme Lord Venkateshwara/Balaji/Vishnu.
As a result, a comprehensive protocol has been devised and implemented for the devotees who come for darshan.
The Darshan of Lord can be done through the Vaikuntam Queue Complex, which is a series of interconnecting halls leading to the main temple.
Brahmotsavam Festival is the most popular and celebrated festival in this temple.
There are also many mysteries revolving around this Vishnu Shrine that could not be explained.
4. Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Kerala
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, built in the eighth century CE is one of the prominent shrines in South India.
The Chera architectural style inspired the building of this intriguing temple in India. It’s one of 108 Divya Desamas (holy abodes of Maha Vishnu).
Sri Padmanabhaswamy Temple is thought to be the wealthiest temple in the world, with a 22 million dollar (estimated) vault that was once opened only on the order of the Supreme Court.
Six of the seven compartments were accessible upon request, and the estimated ornamentations and treasures cost millions.
The secret chamber with no lock or bolt is the 7th Chamber, which is thought to house infinite wealth.
Because the entrance to this hidden chamber can only be opened with a lot of chanting, and hence it remains a mystery.
It is believed that opening the door or the secret vault will result in a disaster.
Lord Vishnu, the principal deity here, is portrayed resting atop (in yogic sleep posture), Anantha, the hooded Serpent.
Every day thousands of devotees visit this holy destination to seek blessings and admire the stunning architecture.
5. Kotilingeshwara Temple, Karnataka
The Kotilingeshwara temple is located in a little village called Kammasandra in the Kolar district of Karnataka.
The temple project involves the installation of 1 crore shiva lingams in the complex and hence the name “Kotilingeshwara”.
Swami Sambha Shiva Murthy established this temple in the year 1980.
The temple is well-known for housing the biggest and tallest Shivling in Asia and the world, which is 33 meters tall.
It is accompanied by an 11-meter-tall Nandi statue.
The entire temple complex is surrounded by a number of Shiva Lingas making the area more divine and fascinating.
There are roughly eleven more temples for other deities on the temple grounds.
The first 3 temples are dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Lord Brahma, and Lord Maheshwara.
Following that is a temple dedicated to Lord Kotilingeshwara.
Other shrines are dedicated to other mother deities.
6. Sabarimala Sastha Temple, Kerala
Sabarimala Sastha Temple, which is located near the Periyar Tiger Reserve, is one of Kerala’s most significant temples dedicated to Lord Ayappa.
This temple in South India is also one of the areas where pilgrims visit in masses every day.
It is estimated that over 50 million pilgrims visit here each year.
Sabarimala is said to be the location where Hindu God Ayyappan meditated after defeating the evil Mahishi.
The Poojas and Abhishekams start at 3:00 AM.
The Sabarimala pilgrimage is unique from other religious temples as it welcomes people of all religions.
Pilgrims to Sabarimala dress in blue or black, smear Chandan (sandal) on their foreheads, stay unshaven, and observe celibacy for 41 days until the pilgrimage is completed.
It should be noted that only men are permitted to visit the shrine, and women of the menstrual age group are not permitted.
7. Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Kerala
Sri Anantha Padmanabhaswamy Temple is one of the 108 Lord Vishnu’s Divya Desam Temples located in the center of Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala.
This well-known shrine honors Lord Vishnu and is the only lake temple in South India.
A seven-tier Gopuram (approximately 100 feet tall) and Padma Theertha, the sacred tank beyond, give the temple an exquisite appearance.
In the sanctum sanctorum, Lord Ananta Padmanabhaswami is engrossed in Yoga Nidra (yogic sleep posture), lying on the thousand-hooded serpent called Adisesha or Ananta, with Sridevi and Bhoodevi by his side.
To have a divine view of the Lord, one must ascend a Mandapam composed of a single stone slab in front of the Garbha Griha.
The Lord is worshiped via three doors: the face in the south, the navel in the middle, and the holy feet in the north.
8. Shirdi Saibaba Temple, Maharashtra
Shirdi, located in Maharashtra, is the holy abode of Shri Satchidanand Sadguru Sainath Maharaj, also known as “Saibaba.”
It is believed that Shri Saibaba arrived as a human incarnation in Shirdi.
Baba served humanity and conveyed his priceless lessons to the world from here for 60 years before returning to Shirdi for contemplation (Samadhi).
Saibaba’s footsteps and acts have transformed this village town into a unique sacred destination for people of all castes, creeds, and religions.
Shirdi is a year-round destination that you can visit.
Even today, all of Baba’s followers arrive in Shirdi with empty hands but full of hope, and leave blessed with contentment and an everlasting smile on their faces.
These are some of the most beautiful and popular temples in South India.
Every year, millions of devotees come to these incredibly renowned temples in search of moksha and inner tranquility.
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